Socialist militants storm Mass in Venezuela
Worshippers were left shaken after militants denounced their priest in a speech at his pulpit
Militant socialists stormed a Mass in Venezuela on Sunday, shouting slogans such as “Satan in a cassock” and “fascist!”
Congregants told Reuters that about 20 people barged in to San Pedro Claver church in the “23 De Enero” community, shouting “Chavez lives!”
The area is militantly loyal to Venezuela’s socialist government.
Luis Arias, 67, a catechism teacher, said: “Some people were scared, obviously, but no one was hurt.
“They said: ‘Because the priests have spoken about politics, we have the right too.’”
The leader of the group, who works at a nearby radio station, made a political speech from the pulpit and denounced the local priest who had been sharing Church pronouncements critical of President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Archbishop Diego Padron, president of Venezuela’s bishops’ conference, said the attack at San Pedro Claver church was not an isolated one.
“There must be a line, an order, to intimidate the Church, to lower its discourse, to [silence it],” he told Reuters. “The government’s retaliation against the declarations of the conference is intimidation.”
In January, Caracas’s main cathedral was stoned in the middle of the night after Archbishop Antonio Lopez gave a speech saying socialism had brought misery.
In a separate incident, a group wearing masks and wielding rifles entered a Trappist monastery in the Andean state of Merida, robbing and terrorising monks. This incident followed another where Catholic students were beaten up and stripped naked by thugs in the same state.